Nu`uanu Shinto temple first to recreate elements of traditional Japanese stage

Nu`uanu Shinto temple Daijingyu Temple of Hawaii recently hired a local artist to add a mural to its theater stage. Why is this so significant? It’s the first stage of its kind on Oahu, coming closest to a traditional Japanese noh stage due to its pine tree painting.

Daijingyu Temple of Hawaii noh stage painting. Kalani Holland, Akihiro Ikada, Devin Oishi. Courtesy: Devin Oishi

Artist Devin Oishi and assistant Kalani Holland painted the scene over the course of a few days. The pine tree, or oi-matsu, is always the backdrop of the noh stage. Daijingyu Temple of Hawaii’s stage is used for cultural performances during festivals.

The temple’s Reverend Akihiro Okada not only commissioned the work, he even did some of the painting: “the gold acrylic prep work and some foliage,” says Oishi.

University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance professor Julie A. Iezzi specializes in Japanese theater. She believes this may be the first on Oahu, and possibly in the state, to resemble a noh stage, simply because of the pine painting.

“To my knowledge there are no proper noh stages in Hawaii. There are open spaces- platform stages perhaps- but nothing built as a noh stage to my knowledge,” she says.

She details Hawaii’s history of noh stages. “Mostly there were popular stages built by the immigrants. And the temples, shrines would have open platform suitable for gagaku, bugaku, or noh (with addition of hashigakari), should there be an occasion. But noh was not, to my knowledge, part of the theatrical touring until post war, and no dedicated stage has been erected here.”

Noh is an important part of Japan’s cultural heritage. It has roots in the Heian period (794-1185), during which time it was performed in open fields. It became, on its own, a major form of classical Japanese musical drama, performed since the 14th century.

Noh stages are traditionally open stages with a handrail and a pine tree painted on the back wall. It is the oldest major theatre art still regularly performed today. It’s so important to Japan’s history, there is a National Noh Theatre in Tokyo.

The public is invited to see this new mural and partake in Daijingyu’s annual fall festival on September 10 at 2 p.m. at 61 Puiwa Road in Nuuanu. There will be a variety of performances along with a Shinto service and a mikoshi parade. More at

Author(s) on this Post

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

Diane Ako has 274 posts and counting. See all posts by Diane Ako

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.